With any mention of your own death or funeral, someone might exclaim, “touch wood” with the good intentions of warding off any bad luck. You may think you have got all your financial planning down for the rest of your life but it’s equally important to count the costs of your life’s very ending – your funeral.
Even when you’re hale and hearty, start having a think about how best to wrap up the odds and ends of your finances and life with this breakdown of the costs of death in Singapore:
How much does dying and a funeral cost in Singapore?
1. Get your LPA, AMD and other end-of-life papers prepared in advance
Planning for the end of your life ahead of time and any surprises will alleviate both financial and to some degree, emotional burden on your loved ones. It’s especially critical when family members subscribe to different beliefs on what best to do in times of terminal or incapacitating illness.
In the latter case, a legal document known as the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) comes in useful to have someone you appoint make critical decisions on your behalf should you lose your mental capacity one day. Another document you might want to consider signing is the Advance Medical Directive (AMD). This will act as a legal and binding refusal to your medical team of any life-sustaining treatments to prolong your life should you become unconscious and terminally ill.
You don’t have to feel weird preparing for your death in advance. In fact, more Singaporeans are getting these papers in order. The numbers of AMDs made by Singaporeans have been increasing yearly, from 1,256 in 2010 to 2,981 in 2015. You can read more about the LPA and AMD on the sites of the Office of the Public Guardian and the Ministry of Health.
How much will you need?
The costs of signing these documents vary but you can expect to fork out an estimate of these sums:
- LPA Form 1 application fee: Usually S$75 but free for Singaporeans until August 31, 2018
- LPA Form 2 application fee: S$200
- LPA certificate issuer service: According to the Office of the Public Guardian, the most common charges for LPA Form 1 lie between S$50 (subsidised) to S$200
- AMDs: Differs from clinic to clinic (general practitioners, polyclinics and hospitals)
Average cost of LPA paperwork: ~S$400
2. Funeral prices differ depending on the type of religious service you go for
Deciding on the type of religious service you want to go for is important. It might mitigate any impending headaches among your family members and even eliminate conflicts. Funeral package prices differ between operators, but you can get a good gauge of what to expect from quotations of local providers.
These starting prices for a three-day funeral may include products and services such as a casket, embalming, hair and makeup, food, tables, chairs and canvas tentage for the wake, prayer services, and transportation of casket and funeral-goers:
Direct Funeral Services: S$4,999 for a Christian or Catholic funeral; S$5,888 for a Buddhist funeral; S$8,288 for a Taoist funeral.
NTUC Income: S$3,300 for a Hindu funeral; S$3,780 for Christian, Buddhist and Taoist funerals (these prices exclude seating arrangements and prayer services such as Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hainan, Buddhist and Taoist rites); S$970 for Muslim funerals (transport of body from home to cemetery).
Singapore Bereavement Services: S$1,000 for same day cremation; S$4,000 for a non-religious freethinker funeral; S$4,000 and S$4,200 for a Catholic or Christian funeral; S$4,800 for a Buddhist funeral at a HDB void deck; S$6,500 for a Taoist funeral.
Casket Fairprice: S$1,300 for direct cremation and no wake; S$4,880 for a freethinker, Catholic or Christian funeral at the void deck; S$5,880 for a Buddhist funeral; S$7,980 for a Taoist funeral.
Average cost of a funeral: Ranges from S$950 – nearly S$10,000 depending on services chose.
3. Do some ‘house’ visiting
Aside from the wake itself, you can also choose where to be cremated – at the government-manned crematorium or the only two private ones at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery and Tse Toh Aum Temple. The fees for cremation at the government-managed crematorium at Mandai is S$100 for adults while private crematoria charges hover around S$300, excluding urn storage.
Just like how you would pay attention to your living quarters, it’s worth taking a look at the niches for your remains too, although no advance booking of niches is allowed at government columbaria. Niches at government columbaria at Mandai and Choa Chu Kang start at S$500.
For those who prefer to be closer to the earth or are required to be buried, the only cemetery venue for burials lies in Choa Chu Kang. Burial fees in the cemeteries there vary. For example, Muslim, Parsi and Bahai cemetery burials cost $315 for adults while those at the Christian, Chinese and Hindu cemeteries are priced around $940. Do note that the burial period for all graves is limited to 15 years currently. Remains will be exhumed after and cremated or re-interred.
Sea burials are an alternative option for those who prefer not to have their remains locked down in a restricted space. You can scatter small amounts of ashes at a designated site near Pulau Semakau, with no permits required for this form of burial.
Average cost of a final resting place: S$100 – S$940
4. Pay for your funeral in advance or in monthly instalments
Just like your life and medical insurance, you can choose to pick up a pre-paid instalment plan or pay in advance for your own funeral. This could relieve the burden these costs might have on your surviving family members.
SFS Care is a local funeral home that has launched such a service, which allows customers to pay an upwards of $100 over 10 years for a funeral package.
5. Talk to a funeral planner in advance
You can also reach out to funeral companies to pre-plan and pay for your funeral in advance. Doing so can deter any unnecessary add-ons your family members might order without the knowledge of what you might have preferred.
Your funeral planner will advise you on to prepare for, such as the writing of a will. Your family members might still have to fork out a small sum for costs such as the amount of packet drink cartons opened at funerals, sets of mourning clothes and quantity of portable toilets.
While funerals are to send off the dead, it’s also the domain for the living as they often have to decide or worse, argue over the best send-off for their dearly departed member. A conversation about death may be painful for some but it can also bring home the point to cherish the days we still have with our loved ones.
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